Company drops plans to abandon rail line
by MBJ Staff
Published: November 10,2011
In a surprising reversal, Grenada Railway, LLC says it is dropping plans to abandon 80-plus miles of rail line running from Grenada to Canton, though the company had not formally filed a dismissal request with the National Surface Transportation Board (NTSB).
This was according to a Nov. 10 release from The Associated Press.
That morning, Mike Tagert, Northern District Transportation Commissioner, told the MBJ, “I feel like this is going to happen, but I haven’t seen anything in writing.”
Last September, Grenada Railway filed a request with NSTB to abandon the rail line, claiming it lost $100,000 on the tracks in 2010 and had already lost another $100,000 this year.
State and local officials quickly mobilized in an attempt to save the rail line that they say is critical to industry in that area. In early October, the Mississippi Transportation Commission applied to the NTSB for a hearing to be held in Mississippi on the planned abandonment.
Two days later, the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors announced it was looking at forming a regional railroad authority in an attempt to keep the tracks open.
Attorney General Jim Hood subsequently sent another request for a NTSB hearing.
The NTSB granted the appeal for a hearing, which was to be held Nov. 16 in Winona.
It appeared that meeting might be heated. According to the AP, on Nov. 8 Grenada Railway, in a NSTB filing, said opponents’ information was unsubstantiated, and they were maligning the company and trying to turn the NSTB against its petition.
Thus, it was surprising that just two days later, Grenada Railway announced it was keeping the line open.
“They heard our pleas to work with them,” Tagert said. “Hopefully this is another opportunity to sit down and try to see what we can do to avoid this, or to possibly attract new companies who might be interested in investing in the line.”
Michael Van Wagenen, vice president of Grenada Railway, told the AP that the rail line will continue to cost his company money, but said the decision was in the best interest of the railroad and the state.
However, he added that he “hopes that the various parties who have opposed the abandonment will now use their best efforts to help the railroad secure the necessary funds to rehabilitate and repair the Grenada Railway.”
At press time, the status of the Nov. 16 NTSB hearing was uncertain.
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